Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Pleasure Palaces of Al'Yin Jin Zarain

1) Prototype demon powered drill tank.
2) Full body suits of Rock to Mud.
3) Safely tucked inside the belly of a Xorn.
4) Riding a Duergar mining drill down from the Underdark. Duergar machinery runs on blood. I hope you brought a couple of paralysed giants with you.
5) Houdini's Collar: If the wearer of the collar's movement is ever completely constricted then she will be immediately teleported 50' in a random direction. And-
Miner's Twine: As long as this string remains tied around your little finger you cannot be crushed to death by stone, earth, or mining slurry.
6) More traditional methods. Probably took about 100 + d20 years, at a rough estimate.

Congratulations. That must have taken a lot of hard work and preparation. I hope you're equally prepared for the drop.

Many errant students of natural philosophy have claimed that the elemental plane of earth is a rabbit's warren of tunnels, mines and passages. Their reasoning is that the earthen plane is inhabited by a great many overlarge earthworms, and that these worms leave these tunnels behind them as they move about the plane. It is true that these worms do in fact exist, and the tunnels they leave behind are large. But they never last for long. There are far more creatures in the plane of earth that despise unrestricted space of all kinds, and wherever they find it will immediately fill it in with good, pleasing earth.

There is however one place, on the outskirts, that resists these urges. It is a cavern, larger even than most on the material plane (which is famous for such things). And anybody trying to dig their way down to the fabled riches in the heart of the elemental plane of earth is usually completely unaware of it until they fall right through the ceiling. The fall is a long one.

There is a 1% chance that any enterprising diggers, instead of falling to their doom through the ceiling, manage to hit the top of The Metropolis of Special Magnificence. This will be taken as an act of war.

Anybody surviving members of the digging crew can pull themselves from whatever wreckage they just created to gaze in wonder upon

This desert is entirely unnatural. It is one of the many art projects of the despotic Dao Al'Yin Jin Zarain (name stolen from the 5e MM. Sorry Wizards I am terrible at names). An excellent discussion of despotic Dao can be found at False Machine. It inspired this whole thing.

The desert is big.

The sand is black and clings to everything.

Occasionally the sand gives way to reveal the bare rock beneath.

"Summoning earth elementals in the plane of earth" rules apply.

The entire desert is sporadically lit by caged bonfires atop great stone towers. The smoke from these fires chokes the upper reaches of the desert-cave.

In the centre of The Black Desert lies the pleasure palaces of The Metropolis of Special Magnificence.

1) Chain gang of slaves crushing rocks to make yet more desert. Inhuman overseer commands flesh golem stitched from the corpses of runaway slaves.
2) Lobotomised giant in ceremonial robes rakes the desert sands into beautiful swirling patterns.
3) Armed guards from local bonfire tower. Their fire went out and they are scared and angry. They will shake the party down for any and all oil and wooden items. (I am sure I stole this, but cannot remember where from)
4) Gigantic worm (a la Dune). Will not enter the rocky areas of desert.
5) Band of gargoyles with unclipped wings. Will yell at the party from the air in preference to landing. Will attempt to involve them in illegal dealings in the city.
6) Large troupe of nomadic dust-centaurs spotted for a moment over a dune.
7) A magic lamp, just lying there in the sand. Contains a genie. The genie will grant any and all wishes with regards to wealth and inflicting psychological torture upon enemies but will consider all other wishes immoral and disgusting. Will break free and kill everyone if not placated after improper wishes are made. Genie treasure does not count for XP (but will still fuck up your campaign)
8) A caravan of devilish traders from hell.
9) Fight a Bulette! Just like on the inside cover of the ADnD Monster Manual!
10) Ruined boat half submerged by dunes. It is the home of a powerful sorceress.
11) Armed guards warning party warning party to move away from secret, precious water catchment area.
12) Tiny snake leads party somewhere excellent and strange, then disappears. This could be any guarded location in the Black Desert or the Metropolis of Special Magnificence. The snake will lead the party past any and all guards with the greatest of ease, as if there were no guards at all. Guards will reappear at their posts with the disappearance of the snake.

DnD with Pornstars Desert Encounters

1) Keyring of small brittle stone keys.
2) Giant Sandworm lure.
3) Small wooden box nailed shut. Inside the box are three eggs packed with straw.
4) A loose collection of small stones.
5) Stone medalion with a portrait of the Sultana on one side and Al'Yin Jin Zarain on the other.
6) A pouch of jems, rubies and golden trinkets.
7) A bag of sweet yellow apples.
8) Thick brass collars and manacles.
9) A love letter. Folded in the love letter is a receipt from Madame Song's Palace of Insensate Delights.
10) A Gargoyle Black Market token hidden in a child's doll.

The city is divided into class-centred districts that are a pain in the arse to move between. Each have different punishments, laws, and social conventions. Most visitors either enter the city for the first time through the Poor District at the bottom or the Merchant's District at the top.

Most of the inhabitants of the city are Stonelings. To humanoids Stonelings appear to be crude, yet flattering statues of their family. Not any family members in particular, but anyone who looks upon them can see chins of uncles, and the smiles of aunts. To non-humanoids they look like basalt carvings of all other humanoids. By temperament they are proud, servile and infuriating.

1) Al'Yin Jin Zarain's palace is breathtaking to behold. Even more so than the Sultana's.
2) Al'Yin frequently rides through the city, throwing wealth into the rabble that crowd around her as she goes. If the party are seen taking wealth from one of these events they will invariably be mobbed and lynched as thieving outsiders. Al'Yin may intervene.
3) Down here, in spiritual heart of the earth itself, no stone given form will stay inert for long. All gargoyles wander from their posts eventually, many with large rubies and emeralds still embedded in their bodies.
4) The more beautiful the workmanship, the more intelligent and devious the gargoyle. All gargoyles these days are created hideous and bent to keep them loyal. It doesn't work.
5) The gargoyles run the black market
6) The gargoyles have secret ways of moving between districts.
7) (Whispered) Al'Yin Jin Zarain's greatest failure was the first gargoyle - a beautiful angel that brought tears to the eyes of all that looked on him. All gargoyles defer to him. He has not been seen for years, but Al'Yin Jin Zarain's bounty for him still stands.
8) The main attraction of religious festivals is being granted passage to the Noble's District to watch Al'Yin behead thieves and slaves.
9) The Palace of Insensate Delights is only named as such to assuage the authorities, if you know what I mean.
10) Every day hundreds of Stonelings throng to gain an audience with the Sultana. This is one of the few accepted reasons for travel to the noble district. (If the party actually goes to see the Sultana, they will either need to wait quietly for 100 days, push their way to the front with enough force to start a fight or show up riding golden elephants or something similarly ostentatious.
11) If you make your way into the desert and speak the words "A diamond in the rough" an enormous stone tiger head will rise out of the sand, swallow you and drag you down to hell. Why would you want to do this? Sometimes people need to go to hell.
12) The war with the Dero is going well. That hunched and wretched race is no match for our noble warriors.
13) The war with the Dero is not going well. Sometimes they even manage to detonate a chaos bomb within the city itself.
14) Al'Yin Jin Zarain is universally loved,  but is constantly being forced to behead evil sorcerers that would do her harm. Where do they all come from? Not from inside the city, surely.
15) Occasionally people who were decapitated in a recent ceremony can be recognised entering a certain walled compound in the poor quarter.
16) Slave keys are only supposed to open the the thick bronze manacles of a specific slave, but sometimes they open other things as well.
17) Don't attempt to bribe the guards with wealth. Instead, offer them services, or a slave key who's owner is certain.
18) The walls of Al'Yin Jin Zarain's palace can occasionally be seen shifting from outside.
19) Excited details of Al'Yin Jin Zarain's latest work of public art.
20) When selling yourself into slavery, don't just put yourself up for free auction at the Locksmith. Evaluate your options. Or maybe you're hungry and dying of thirst. Then you probably just want to take whatever you can get.

These are the default punishments for crimes committed in each district, if nothing more fitting is immediately obvious.

MERCHANTS - No jail. Either thumbs removed, beaten and sent free (for minor offences) or sold into slavery to evil Underdark race.
ARTISANS - Sent to work in the steam pits that power the city,
NOBLES - The jail in the Noble's District looks like a fish pond in a startlingly well defended pleasure garden. Prisoners are turned into fish of a colour matching their religious beliefs. (Eating fish as Strange Waters II from LotFP Core Rulebook)
ARMY - Hung from tiny cage until execution. Decapitated by broadsword to great public spectacle.
POOR - Locked in the basilisk pens. Particularly noble or amusing statues will be installed in the city as public art. The rest are taken out to the desert and ground to dust.

The palaces of the Sultana and Al'Yin Jin Zarain have their own dungeons. They are not pleasant.

The markets of the Metropolis of Special Magnificence has more wonderful items, more delicious food, and sweeter, clearer water for sale than any other place ever. However, anyone who cannot provide proof of their "enslavement" will not be allowed to buy a thing, and possibly turned over to the guards immediately. Because if you've never enslaved yourself then how did you manage to earn all that money?


  • The brass manacles that everyone in the city wears.
  • Religious devotion.
  • Demonic pacts made (worth much more than religious devotion).
  • Hireling's terms of service papers.
  • etc.

There must be physical proof of the enslavement.

Greater displays of wealth will require greater displays of slavery.

The players may sell themselves into slavery at the Locksmith. This will "give" them a pair of brass manacles just like everyone else in the city wears. They will also be forced to undertake laborious and distasteful quests at inconvenient times from then on.

Everyone in the city has at least one such bondage (except, maybe, for the Sultana, who is supposed to be bound only to the heavens). Even Al'Yin, whom it is rumoured has the most terrible bondage of all. The more powerful a citizen of the Metropolis of Special Magnificence, the more enslavements they bear.

Who owns whom is a ridiculous game of intrigue, lies and murder that everyone in the city is obliged to play.

If the party members become enslaved and bring enough cash to bear to start acquiring some of the wonders of the city they will quickly become embroiled in a spending war with Al'Yin Jin Zarain that will spell economic doom for the city. If the campaign reaches this point then wealth should no longer be measured in gold pieces but in number of wishes.

Being enslaved in the city is not at all like real-world slavery. This is a game. It is more like having an obnoxious and demanding benefactor that cannot be ignored.

Slaves are almost always owned by individuals, not factions. Typical demands are presented here by faction.

Quests can be demanded at any time. Usually at the worst time. Being owned by more than one faction will quickly result in simultaneous conflicting instructions.

  1. Suicide mission into newly opened desert hellpit.
  2. Scouting/sabotage of Derro military/paranoia targets.
  3. Sent to find recently disappeared noble. Left behind empty mansion full of traps and clues.
  4. Hunting gargoyles
  5. Dressed in uniform and set to guard the outer wall of the Sultana's palace. For weeks.
  6. Hunting Sorcerers.
  1. Given a chisel, hammer, pinch bar and climbing gear and sent to rescue newly carved gargoyles. New gargoyles are hideous and cantankerous.
  2. Cleaning house in secret underground tunnels/sewers. Monsters/magical seepage/effluence.
  3. Temporarily loaned out to another faction.
  4. Sent to find specific citizen's slave key and retrieve it.
  5. Sent in to the Grey Palace - City's gargoyle insane asylum/prison to free as many gargoyles as possible. Kill "doctors"
  6. Accompany liaison into hell. Survive obvious deathtrap.
  1. Sent to ruin preparations for rival noble's lavish party. Rival noble has secret genie and will wish back all damage unless prevented.
  2. Sent to bribe guards with totally inadequate offering.
  3. Fight brash young noble's duel for him.
  4. Find a genie. Any genie.
  5. Procure drugs from gargoyles.
  6. Sent to hunt down other escaped slaves.
Taken to the Sultana's Palace

Taken to Al'Yin's palace. 

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